One billion dancing, one billion rising
MANILA, Philippines - Last February 14, Tomas Morato was besieged by a sea of pink and red as thousands of “risers” gathered for the biggest One Billion Rising (OBR) event in the Philippines.
Swaying to the upbeat OBR song and raising their finger to the sky, the crowd danced against violence against women or VAW.
Risers have declared February 14 V-Day, not to stand for Valentine’s Day, but to stand for the fight against VAW.
Organizers of the spectacle including Gabriela Women’s Party, Gabriela and New Voice Company are proud that the Philippine event is one of the first Risings happening all over the world, kickstarting the One Billion Rising Global Campaign along with Australia and New Zealand.
As of publishing time, 202 countries have signed up for the campaign and have committed to staging Risings wherein participants dance together in streets, schools, malls, airports and other public places. In the Philippines, Risings are happening in 25 different places including Baguio.
Monique Wilson, renowned singer-actress and coordinator of the OBR campaign in the Philippines and the United Kingdom exclaimed, “We are proud to say that with the broad support of local governments, businesses, NGOs and various sectors, the Philippine Rising is already a success.”
Risers of every color
The risers in Tomas Morato were a varied crowd. Aside from members of Gabriela, there were children, students still in their uniform, teachers, nuns, police, actors and Muslim women who came all the way from Mindanao.
Hosts Angel Aquino and Gabriela Alliance Secretary-General Joms Salvador worked up the crowd in between dance performances by the Polytechnic University of the Philippines’ Maharlika Dance Group and a heart-rending yet uplifting rendition of “Magdalena” and “Nosi Balasi” by Maegan Aguilar, daughter of Freddie Aguilar.
Gabriela leaders, Angel Aquino and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) movement joined each other on stage to perform “Still I Rise,” a poem by Maya Angelou about dignity and determination despite persecution.
Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, who helped secure Tomas Morato as a venue for the event, was also present. She told Rappler that the Quezon City local government’s involvement in the campaign was the tip of the iceberg of projects geared to the protect women’s rights in the city.
She said, “I was really happy because we just opened a protection center for women and children and even LGBTs in the Quezon City General Hospital. It’s a good opportunity for us to really show everyone that we’re serious in our efforts to fight the violence.”
Though a majority of risers were women, men were also present, many wearing One Billion Rising t-shirts and declaring their “vow to fight VAW.”
A self-proclaimed V-man, Rep. Teddy Casiño said, “Every act of violence against a woman is also an act of violence against their brothers, their husbands, their grandfathers, their children. It is an issue of all people and it degrades humanity in general.”
The V-men joined the women risers in protesting against the 7 Deadly Sins Against Women which are:
- Rape and incest
- Sexual harassment
- Domestic violence
- Sex trafficking and prostitution
- Sexual discrimination in the workplace
- Inaccessibility or limited access to maternal health and childcare
- Violence as a result of state repression
An 8th sin was added: electronic violence against women or E-VAW. This refers to the manipulation of technology to inflict violence against women and children such as the production and distribution of videos or photos showing private parts of a woman or child without their consent.
At around 8:30 pm, the main flash mob, enlarged by hundreds of additional risers, began to dance. The emotions of each riser were as varied as the risers themselves. Some had intense looks on their faces, some looked angry and determined, others were laughing and just having fun.
But common to all was the energy, the sense of upliftment and the joy of being there dancing for themselves and the millions of women all over the world who suffer. - Rappler.com
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